Crowdfunding for the arts

 13 June 2013

What are the routes to funding success? Ben Hamilton, Community Manager at arts crowdfunding platform PleaseFund.Us, has advice for successful crowdfunding.

Exhibiting photography is one arts area that PleaseFund.Us has helped crowdfund for. Image: Lens Think
Exhibiting photography is one arts area that PleaseFund.Us has helped crowdfund for. Image: Lens Think

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way to raise money in the arts as traditional sources of funding are cut.

The good news is that any arts idea is crowdfundable, whether you’re an individual, business, organisation or charity.

The key to a successful project

In my opinion, there are three main reasons why someone will back a project:

  1. They like the project as whole, and want to see your idea happen.  
  2. They like how you present yourself as a person.
  3. They want something that your project is offering: a pledge reward.

Your idea will resonate with some people, and not with others, but the latter two can be harnessed and used to your advantage.

Create likeability with the use of a good video pitch and offer some creative pledge rewards. 

Create a video pitch 

People are often put off by the idea of making a video, but it's surprisingly simple and very effective.

People are often put off by the idea of making a video, but it's simple and effective.

It makes a more personal pitch, showing the viewer who you are, what you are doing and why you need the money.

Your video is often the first thing people will look at when viewing your page, so it's a tool to entice people to scroll further down your project page. 

1.Keep it short

Treat it as a movie trailer in order to fit into people’s web browsing time. There’s nothing stopping you uploading more video footage at the bottom of your page.   

2. Give a face to your crowdfunding campaign

People like to know who you are, and so it breaks down any barriers of trust.   

This is also where you can shine and win people over with your charm. The more passionate you are about your project, the more people will be drawn to your idea. 

3. Show examples

To break it up, include examples of your work, or anything that’s related to your project, in order to visually engage your viewers.  

4. Make people want to find out more

Don’t give the whole game away. Hook your audience in with some bait, and reel them in by directing to other parts of your project page.    

Reward crowdfunding pledges

Pledge rewards are the incentives that you offer your backers in return for their pledge. 

They can be in the form of products, experiences, acknowledgements, accreditations. 

These don’t have to cost much. The simplest acknowledgement can sometimes be the winning formula.

I recommend creating a couple of the three main types of rewards.

1. Entry-level pledges

Your entry-level reward is to accommodate for those who simply want to donate to your cause.

Take a chance and go big: the more your project is perceived as offering, the better.

For a relatively small amount, you can offer a simple recognition of thanks that is inexpensive to you, while giving your campaign the option of going viral.

One crowdfunding musician offered 'a personal thank you on the album sleeve and a copy of the recipe for the world’s finest lemon drizzle cake’. An inexpensive and unique reward.    

2. Core pledges  

On average, the most popular pledge size from all of our successful projects has been £64.

You should therefore try to have a core pledge: something that you’re really proud of, and which could potentially be your campaign’s main selling point. Ideally this should be £25-£65.

For example, Twelfth Night’s reward for £50 was a thank you on the website and programme, as well as a free ticket to the press night. This secured almost two thirds of their support.

3. Lottery ticket pledges

Don’t be afraid to take a chance and go big. The more your project is perceived as offering, the better. 

This could be your chance to accommodate for potential corporate support from businesses and organisations. 

For example, the documentary When Jaws Came To Visit received three £1,000-5,000 backers in return for them being credited as associate producers and getting freebies – including a free shark cage diving experience!

Set a limit to spark interest

When thinking about what to reward your backers with, it’s worth bearing in mind some tactics that will garner support both initially and in the quieter middle stages of your campaign. 

Setting a limit on a particular reward for example can be a good way to get people to act fast.

Take The Arts Barge Project for example. They offered a limited edition print for the first 10 backers, and it didn’t stop them receiving more than 10 either.  

For more guidance on crowdfunding campaigns, visit PleaseFund.Us.

Have you ever thought about crowdfunding your creative work? What would make you donate?


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